My flight from SFO left at 6:15 in the damn morning, which meant I caught up on sleep on the plane, although I did attempt to watch 27 Dresses for James Marsden's sake. And then Judy Greer's sake. And then Krysten Ritter's sake. And then Maulik Pancholy's sake. And then Melora Hardin's sake. What is WITH that movie?
I got into Boston around 3 and took a taxi to my hotel, the Omni Parker House, which is supposed to be quite historical. My room was really small, though, compared to, well, every other hotel I've been in. The bed was ginormous and took up 80% of the room. I rested and read some Preacher while I waited for 4:30 to roll around.
I went down to the lobby, and right on time, there were smrou and bookie85! smrou was wearing the "Frakkin' Toaster" Glarkware shirt.
smrou declared herself to be an awful tour guide, which was a good start. She did point out the Freedom Trail, which was a red line. I wasn't entirely sure what else there was to it. Our first stop (not on the Freedom Trail) was the purported Biggest Borders in the World, according to bookie85. It didn't look so big. But we entertained ourselves by the shelves for "British TV." There were a bunch of old school Doctor Who DVDs!
Then we were off to Fanueil Hall, which has a funny name. On the way, smrou pointed out things like "Old City Hall" since most of the cool stuff about Boston was what used to be there. Fanueil Hall was also historical for some reason, but, more importantly, someone had set up a Cheers bar with life-size cardboard stand-ins. That's real history! Even though the bar had nothing to do with the show and was simply built as a tourist attraction to appease those who visited the actual bar where the exteriors were shot and learned that the interior was not, in fact, identical to the television set.
We continued walking, and smrou pointed out a giant girder that was sticking out of the ground in front of my face that took me three or four tries to notice. I'm sure it was important for some reason.
From Fanueil Hall, we wandered into the North End. As we passed a bar called the Living Room, I noticed a sign for Team Trivia on Tuesday nights at 8:00. I have not bothered to mention it yet, but it was Tuesday!! And so our evening plans were set. The girls complimented my good eye.
We walked down Hanover Street, which smrou loved and bookie85 also liked, as it was home to Modern Pastry, one of her favorite places.
Once smrou mentioned that there were duck statues in the Public Garden commemorating Make Way for Ducklings, we had a destination. Make Way for Ducklings! I remembered that book! There were ducklings! That needed to be made way for! On the way, we passed a cemetery that housed Samuel Adams and John Hancock and Paul Revere's gravestone but not his body or something like that. Thanks for America, guys! We also traversed Boston Common (like the show!), where someone was selling fried dough. Mmm, fried dough.
When we reached the Public Garden, smrou encountered a dilemma: she always went the wrong way, but when she tried to second-guess herself and go the way opposite of where she would normally go, it was also the wrong way, so, basically, she was always wrong.
Today was no exception. But we made a course correction in a timely manner.
I was glad to reach the duck statues because there was a bench and I needed to sit down. The statues were quite popular at the moment anyway. A group of teenage girls were taking lots of pictures with the ducks, and they eventually had the clever idea to pose as ducks themselves at the end of the line. I'm positive it's been done a million times before, but it was amusing to see for the first time. And then there were all the small children! Oh, small children.
Once the small children left, I was able to go play with the ducks. Except the mama duck bit off my hand.
After my hand grew back, we sat on the bench. And this five-year-old girl walked past us, and the only thing we heard was "Once I caught a Chinese minnow." And I don't think the words convey how hilarious/adorable/bizarre this really was because she said it the same way a little kid would say, "Once I caught a real big dragon." We weren't even sure a Chinese minnow was a real fish.
Minutes later, a woman walked past us talking on her cell phone, and all we heard was "Are you currently working on a project?" I suggested we start mashing up snippets of overheard conversation.
"Are you currently working on a project?"
"Once I caught a Chinese minnow."
A woman stopped and pointed at smrou, and at first, I thought she recognized her, but she was actually pointing at her shirt. She wanted to know where she'd gotten it because her daughter would love it. It wasn't entirely clear whether her daughter was a BSG fan or just liked toasters; the woman said she had a shirt that said "Toast."
Around this time, cindywrites finally got into town! I had called earlier and spoken to her for the first time, but she didn't sound like I had expected at all; I later learned it was her sick voice. Perhaps one day I will hear her real voice. Today, however, I talked to her sick voice, and we set up a meeting point at the Holocaust Memorial.
As we made our way, I called jeeperstseepers and asked her to look up the Chinese minnow, which, as it turned out, was a real fish.
Cindy called and asked what I was wearing, which I thought was irrelevant because, really, I'm the Indian guy approaching you with two white Caucasian she-devils by his side. And you're the woman getting up to hug me madly.
I also met Mr. Writes (who, for Cindy, was Mr. Right...ba dum, bum). We discussed dinner plans. The Union Oyster House was in eyesight, and it was the longest-running restaurant in the country, so of course I had to eat there! Sadly, there was a forty-five-minute wait (damn you, Celtics game!), so I only got to watch people drink there.
Cindy commented that I was very quiet. I think people expect me to be a lot more talkative and energetic in person, but my default setting is Reserved. I'm more than used to meeting people from the Internet, and I don't find it weird or anything, but the fact still remains that online interaction is different from real-life interaction in many fundamental ways. And it's very different when you've mostly interacted with people on messageboards or through e-mails, when you haven't had much one-on-one real-time communication. You don't really know how to act.
Time was of the essence, and we suspected that Durgin Park, another famous Boston restaurant, would also be packed, but we knew Fanueil Hall would have many places to eat. And, indeed, Salty Dog could seat us immediately.
I think everyone but smrou had clam chowder. It was very good, but I couldn't really discern a difference from the clam chowder I'd had in San Francisco. What I could not get in San Francisco, however, was scrod, a Boston original. I'm still not entirely clear on what the fuck scrod is, since it appears to just be...cod. It was really good, though! All buttery and herby! I didn't realize whitefish could actually taste good!
Seating order before we take our leave: Cindy, Mr. Writes, bookie85, smrou, me. It was a circular table.
We booked it to the Living Room and made it just in time. We snagged a couch. We weren't really sure how the trivia game was played, but we caught on. Each round had four questions, and the rounds lasted interminably long because they played an entire song in between questions to give you time to answer. There was an interesting bit of strategy, though. At the beginning of the round, the trivia jockey announced what category each question was going to be, and when you submitted your answer (so that's what that pad was for...), you were supposed to give it a certain point value (1, 3, 5, 7 in the first half and 2, 4, 6, 8 in the second). Obviously, when you knew an answer for sure, you would give it the highest point value, but when you weren't sure, it got interesting because you had to figure out what point values you wanted to save for what categories.
I didn't know the first question, but my teammates did, so I wrote down the answer (Roseanne) and the point value (7). I had to come up with a team name on short notice, so I dubbed us Teapot Xtreme in honor of teapot37, patron saint of trivia, who has been on both Jeopardy! and World Series of Pop Culture.
The second question asked us what weather condition an anonometer measured, and smrou blurted out, "Wind speed." None of us had a blinkin' clue, but even she wasn't sure of her answer! But I thought she was 3 sure of it, and, sure enough, she was right! Those are the fun moments. The third question was embarrassingly easy ("What hip hop duo won the first Grammy in that category for the song 'Parents Just Don't Understand'?"): DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. The fourth question was a tough one, as there was some contention over what state the Unabomber was caught in. I had no idea, but smrou and Mr. Writes finally decided on Montana, which was right! We were 4 for 4!
Then there was a bonus round that asked us to identify TV moms, and, awesomely enough, the very first one was Lorelai fucking Gilmore. We worked together on this one, and bookie85 saved the day by recognizing the damn mom from 7th Heaven. We got them all right, and we were tied for first place! The pressure was on.
So, of course, we totally fucking choked on the next round. smrou will never forgive herself for thinking Goodyear's jingle ended in "When the rubber meets the road" (it was Firestone), and Mr. Writes was baffled by the Baseball Stadiums question, which we were saving our 5-pointer for. On the other hand, we managed to guess what fucking country Chernobyl is in now (Ukraine), and I was apparently the only one of us to have seen the Seinfeld episode where George has the high score on Frogger (that was supposed to be a Video Game question, but it was really a television question, and I had to rush out of the bathroom to make sure I heard it since no one else on our team played video games).
The half time question was a series of clues, each more specific than the last but diminishing the point value of the answer. smrou pegged Wesley Snipes with the second clue, but we weren't completely sure until the third. By the end of that round, we had plummeted to fourth. On the upside, the three teams ahead of us seemed to be our only competitors. On the downside, you could also read that as our basically being last. Our goal was now to make it to third place, which would be respectable.
Around this time, the Writeses had to jet, sadly.
Teapot Xtreme was two members down but three members strong! And the third round got off to a good start when the Literature question was, again, embarrassingly easy ("Who wrote Get Shorty and Out of Sight?" Oh, I don't know, has anyone ever fucking heard of Elmore Leonard? Geez!). But then the fucking US History question drove us nuts: WHAT THE FUCK WAS THE FORTY-EIGHTH STATE?? Not Wyoming, we'll tell you that. It was Arizona. And we really thought Charlie Parker played the trumpet (alto sax). But we bounced back due to bookie85's inexplicable knowledge of the fact that Nike is the only Fortune 500 company based in Oregon.
The bonus round was movie quotes, which we tore through pretty quickly, although a few gave us trouble. We were also given the first name of the actor who said the line, and we weren't sure whether one line was Will Ferrell or Will Smith. And we weren't positive it was from Anchorman, but it was the best guess we could come up with (it was right). Unfortunately, we didn't pick up until after submitting that all the movies were comedies, which resulted in our guessing Robert De Niro in A Bronx Tale rather than Meet the Parents. By this time, we were still hanging tight in fourth place. The pressure was off, which was actually a relief.
The final round started off badly, as the state that has held the most Super Bowls is not Texas but Florida, which was our other guess. But then we were asked what company used the "Good till the last drop" slogan before Maxwell House. I was pretty certain it was Coca-Cola, and I was right! Thank you, trip to Atlanta. The last two questions were Television and Movies, so we had saved our 6 and 8. The former question asked us what fX series in its fourth season caused controversy with a Scientology storyline, and, really, by process of elimination, the only possible show that could have been was nip/tuck, and it was. And the Movies question was stupidly easy for us, as it asked what 2007 movie was loosely based on the book Oil!. smrou and I had not seen it, but we knew it was There Will Be Blood. We were still in fourth place, and now smrou had to leave!
It was down to me and bookie85 for the final round. We would get two questions and wager between 2 and 10 points (but we would only lose half our wagered points if we were incorrect). The World Geography question asked what country the tallest building in the world was in (it was no longer the CN Tower), and the Music question asked who was the only person to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times (1992, 1993, and 2000). bookie85 guessed the first one was Dubai, and the only person I could think of for the second was Bruce Springsteen, since everyone thinks he's awesome. We weren't really positive, however, so we decided to play it safe and wager the minimum 2 points each. Luckily, bookie85 was right, which was awesome, and I was completely wrong, which was not (it was Eric Clapton).
We waited for the final point total. And as the trivia jockey read out the teams' final point totals, it struck me that one of our competitors had seemingly taken a nose dive of close to ten points. Which meant...our strategy had paid off! WE TOTALLY WON THIRD PLACE!!! The prize was a ten-dollar gift certificate for the Living Room, which we could use when I returned in June. I told bookie85 that she and smrou should get some friends and come down every week and play as Teapot Xtreme so that by next month, the other teams would be all, "Oh shit, Teapot Xtreme is here! We're fucked!"
Kyra (brouhaha) called me just as the game was ending, which was pretty good timing. We arranged to meet at the Government Center T stop, which is where bookie85 bid me adieu. I waited fourteen billion hours and hoped no one would stab me.
When Kyra arrived, we looked for a place that was still open after 10:30, and we were denied a couple times before being pointed to Red Sky, where we sat in a very silly booth and listened to bizarre mash-ups. Kyra was much more energetic at that hour than I was, so I think I was sort of disappointing, which was too bad since she'd been excited to meet me. We have a mutual love of Emily (tigeremme), but she also bizarrely knows filmtx and eponis, which I suppose comes of going to Rice. What the hell, Rice?!
She walked me back to my hotel, where I could finally rest.
The next morning was my training course. I grabbed some breakfast at Bruegger's, satisfying my craving for smoked salmon, which I love to eat on the company's dime.
Amusingly and unsurprisingly, come to think of it, the training course was taught by the same woman who had taught the MedDRA coding course I'd taken in San Diego in September. I had a computer in front of me that was connected to the Internet, so I was totally able to catch up on stuff online while learning! I was pleased to see that I was not the only one, er, multitasking. Hey, I even logged into work and checked stuff! It wasn't all fun and games!
After the course, I again rested and read some Preacher as I waited for 5:30 to roll around. When I went down to the lobby, there were my Buffistas! Jon B. and Nora Deirdre and Frankenbuddha and Buffista-by-proxy, the illustrious FAQWife, who was just as lovely and genial as expected. Nora I had met before, but the rest were new.
We walked down Tremont toward Chinatown, our destination being Shabu Zen. Shabu Zen served "hot pots," which were sort of like Chinese fondue. Except with broth. It all seemed very complicated when our waiter explained it, but we eventually got things figured out. I ordered a Surf and Turf, which was a seafood platter with chicken. We all stuck with the regular broth, as this was our first time, except for Frank, who went with the Thai Tom Yum.
So once the broth was heated up, you...cooked your meat. The chicken cooked very quickly, and it was very good. The waiter explained that some of the seafood could take a minute or several, so there was a special little straining cup to set it in the broth. The salmon was good, of course, but the real surprise was the cod. I'm not sure what it is about cod, but it appears to be very good. Or maybe it was just the sauce, which was soy sauce in which we mixed in garlic, chili peppers, green onions, and "BBQ sauce" that seemed more like some sort of fish paste. The scallops were also quite tasty. The fish cake was interesting but also good. The squid was a little tough and not really that tasty. Although Jon and I did get little baby squids that magically went from limp to tentacle-crazy within seconds of hitting the hot broth. It was fun.
It was definitely a unique eating experience. There were vegetables too. And noodles! Nora would like it known that she did not burn me during dinner. The same could not be said of Frank and Jon. The jury's still out on FAQWife.
There's murder in those eyes.
Dessert was red bean soup, and you should not make dessert out of red beans. I'm just saying.
Nora and Frank had to catch the 8:00 train after dinner, so Jon & FAQWife led me back to the hotel. On the way, Jon and I finally understood what it is she'd been laughing about on the way there. There was a parking garage that made a beeping noise whenever anyone left, like a siren. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, etc. On its final beep, however, it made this hilarious byeeeaaaooough noise, like it was just petering out and dying. Every time. It cracked us up.
Once I was alone, I began my quest to find Boston cream pie. I presumed Modern Pastry would have some, so I headed toward it. And I am actually quite impressed with myself that I did not get lost at all. I had actually figured out where Hanover Street was in relation to my hotel without ever having walked a direct route between them. Take that, orienteering by directions relative to landmarks.
Except Modern Pastry did not appear to have Boston cream pie! What the fuck! And neither did any of the fancy Italian restaurants and cafes I could see! I figured old Mike's Pastry had to have some, though, and I was right. You know what else Mike's Pastry had? Cute Indian girls! There are cute Indian girls in Boston! One of you guys should find me one to marry.
Boston cream pie, as I had learned recently, was actually a cake. And not really an interesting one, at that. There was some custard and cake and some chocolate frosting that tasted like Betty Crocker. But...now I can say I've had Boston cream pie?
It was still early. We had passed an AMC theatre on Tremont, so I figured I could go see a movie to pass the time. And, oh, I had a free movie ticket! This was perfect! Maybe I could see Harold and Kumar if the timing worked out.
Almost to the theatre, I heard a couple male voices behind me. "Are you lost? Do you need directions?" It's hard to describe what was so menacing about the tone. I was a little freaked out until I realized they were actually talking to the woman in front of me, and then I became freaked out on her behalf. Because I will never truly understand what it's like to be a woman since no one will ever pull that shit on me when I am walking alone in the dark.
Part of me wanted to turn around and tell the guys to leave her alone, but I held my tongue and succumbed to the Someone Else's Problem field. I did take a look back at her when I passed, and she seemed not to be fazed, so that was good. I'm sure she was fine.
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay was at 9:40. It was now 9:00. How could I waste forty minutes? I walked around the area. There was a closed bookstore. I found myself in the Emerson College food court. I burned a quarter of an hour catching up with Dahlia on the phone (I had seen a girl wearing a Brandeis sweatshirt the night before!).
There were a handful of people in the theatre. We got some pretty nice trailers (Hellboy II looks so badass!).
The movie is not nearly as good as the first one. It does have its funny moments, but a lot of the best stuff was in the trailers. It makes me wonder whether the first movie was really as good as I thought it was. It's still pretty entertaining, though, as you would expect. Also: make sure to stay till the end of the credits!
The walk back down Tremont seemed shorter after the movie. I really wanted to get into bed.
Boston was a pretty nice place. There were buildings and stuff.